Shiku Smilovic of Mukacheve, Ukraine

ROOM 7: CONCENTRATION CAMPS
 

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First-Hand Account

 

From Shiku Smilovic's autobiographical memoir, "Buchenwald 56466":

January 1945:
"Most of the concentration camps in Eastern Europe were being evacuated away from the advancing Russian Armies and a great number of their inmates were brought to Buchenwald. All the Jews in Czenstechov were brought to Buchenwald. The camp was over-filled with prisoners by the thousands. Since the factories were out of operation, we stayed in the barracks and I had the opportunity to go and see father again.

Father was very pessimistic about the whole situation. He told me that all the people from his barrack were being transferred from Buchenwald in order to make room for other incoming prisoners. I felt a cold shiver going through my bones. The Americans were already occupying part of western Germany; in only a few weeks the war would be over, and we would be free. Father took me around and hugged me for a while. I could feel his tears running down my neck and he said, 'If you are spared I want you to tell the world about our destruction. And don't let the world ever forget the murder of the Jews!'

With a kiss on my forehead he said goodbye, and walked away waving to me. I was left sitting on the ground in front of my barrack, dazed. I wanted to cry out and scream. I just sat and watched while Dad was walking away towards his barrack and kept waving all along. The next day when I returned from work, I hurried to see father in his barrack, but he was gone. They were all removed the night before and taken away to an unknown destination.

I returned to my barrack with the gift I had made up the night before: a package with a pair of warm socks and a piece of bread and a chocolate bar we received from the Red Cross the week before. I had saved it for a special occasion and I had brought it all back. I sat down on my bunk and was shocked from the bad news. I knew in my heart that father was gone forever, and I couldn't do a thing. I cried like I never cried before; my tears were forming like rivers all over me, somehow I blamed myself, thinking that maybe I could have helped father somehow, but everything happened so fast and he was gone forever."
 

 

 

 

 

 













 


 

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